#WhatTheFAQ: How did UPSC extra attempt protests begin? What happened at Delhi's Old Rajinder Nagar?  

With the aspirants who are demanding for UPSC extra attempt stepping up their protests, we look back at the movement so far 
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

In the wee hours of December 20, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Exam (CSE) aspirants who were staging a protest demanding a compensatory attempt were allegedly thrashed and detained by the Delhi Police force. "There was a scuffle with the police at the protest site and many were hurt. Additionally, a couple of them were detained for the entire night and released early morning the next day," says Gaurav Thakur, who has been heading the movement on the ground for more than two years. Gaurav lost his final attempt during the pandemic in 2020. The aspirants staged their protest at the UPSC hub of Delhi, Old Rajinder Nagar, from December 17. 

What happened?
The protest on December 20 was a continuation of the Maha Satyagraha movement, which started on November 26, the Constitution Day. "We had two candle-light marches on December 17 and 18, followed by demonstrations on December 19 and 20. We had permission for these protests; however, things went south on the final day, probably because we were finally gaining attention. We even got permission for an extension of another day to stage our protests," says Nitin Kumar, an aspirant. 

When we asked Gaurav Thakur why did the police force interfere despite permission, he informed us, "The modus operandi of the police is that they never give permission; they cooperate. It is passive support and on December 19, we got that support but not much on December 20." 

For how long have the aspirants been protesting for?
The UPSC candidates who appeared for their final attempt during the pandemic have been demanding a compensatory attempt and an age relaxation since early 2021. According to the aspirants, they deserve another attempt as a "basic relief" under the Disaster Management Act. EdexLive was previously also informed that around 40,000 candidates were directly affected by the pandemic. These candidates include COVID patients, frontline health workers, those affected by the digital divide and more. 

The Maha Satyagraha protest started on November 19 when the aspirants mobilised in hundreds to join unending protests till an extra attempt is announced. However, later their permission to protest was retracted. The candidates again started staging their Maha Satyagraha on December 17. 

Why was the Maha Satyagraha cancelled?
The aspirants were no longer allowed to protest due to the upcoming Delhi Municipal Corporation elections. However, the candidates found an ulterior motive for the move. "We were finally able to mobilise a lot of candidates. I think that did not sit well with the authorities," says Nitin. After the permission to protest on November 26 at Old Rajinder Nagar was cancelled, students continued their protest at Jantar Mantar that day. 

How far has the protest proceeded?
The UPSC extra attempt protests have escalated and recently gained a lot of media engagement. Yagya Dutt, who handles the digital front of the movement, says that after the incident of police manhandling, a lot of support poured in for them. He adds, "We also got a lot of mainstream media attention. People seem to be sympathetic to our demands. But unfortunately, this only came after an aggressive attack from the police. Is aggression all that works in this country? Does peaceful protest mean nothing to a country that calls Gandhi its father?" 

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